December 1, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Superstore”


SUPERSTORE:  Monday 8PM (starting January 4) on NBC – If Nothing Else Is On…

If a weak form of The Office‘s DNA seems to flow through NBC’s new sitcom SUPERSTORE, which previewed tonight before beginning its regular run on January 4, it’s not a coincidence:  the series was created by Justin Spitzer, a writer/producer on the network’s last big comedy hit.  Once again, we’re in a dysfunctional workplace, where an assortment of dimwitted employees barely manage to keep the doors open.  But Superstore is at best a distant cousin of its memorable forebear, many times removed.

The location this time is a big-box retailer called Cloud 9 in an anonymous strip-mall.  Our equivalents of Jim and Pam are Jonah (Ben Feldman, a recent NBC sitcom survivor of A to Z), a newcomer to Cloud 9, and Amy (America Ferrara, returning to series TV after a long run in Ugly Betty), a more experienced supervisor at the store.  Their awkward Michael Scott-ish idiot boss is Glenn (Mark McKinney), and co-workers include the security-obsessed Dina (Lauren Ash), who quickly forms a crush on Jonah, pregnant Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom), mincing Mateo (Nico Santos) and Garrett (Colton Dunn), a cool black guy in a wheelchair.

The pilot, written by Spitzer and directed by Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer, hinted at a potential romance between Jonah and Amy (complicated by the wedding ring Amy doesn’t wear in the store), but that was at least temporarily gone by the next episode, which took place 2 weeks later and was written by Consulting Producer Matt Hubbard and directed by Michael Patrick Jann.  In that one, the single source of plot was the visit of a reporter from the retail chain’s in-house magazine (played by Eliza Coupe, who deserves better), and the numbskull ways the various employees reacted.  All too quickly, the characters settled into schtick:  Jonah is a touch too earnest for his own good, Dina overreacts and nurses her crush, Glenn flails about and says dumb things, Amy is the level-headed one, etc.

Sadly, it’s saying absolutely nothing to note that Superstore is at least less terrible than NBC’s current sitcom pair of Undateable and the essentially cancelled Truth Be Told.  Feldman and Ferrara are likable leads who are capable of getting a fun bantering rhythm going, and the show has an effective look, taking place mostly within the walls of the store.  At its best, it recalls the offbeat charm of the Gene Hackman comedy All Night Long.  But so far, there’s not much “best” about it, and unlike The Office, it seems to have little interest in tracing the humanity within its silly characters.

Superstore is little more than a time-waster, and after tonight, it won’t have The Voice as a lead-in.  With a short run against mostly hiatus competition, however, it might manage to keep its lights on temporarily, as forgettable as a visit to K Mart.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."